Queens Ball Virtual Awards, Isolation Costume Ball & more

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Photo: Brisbane Pride

In the early days of Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions, QNews approached the Brisbane Pride Festival Committee about the possibility that it might prove impossible to hold a Queens Ball in 2020. The committee will now host the Queens Ball Virtual Awards on 27 June. The same day will also see Global Pride. Earlier, QNews will present a costume event, the Isolation Ball. The long-awaited Queens Ball Book will also launch that day as a PDF.

With no vaccine yet in sight, no one can predict how long social distancing restrictions might last and when authorities will allow mass gatherings.


The Queens Ball is the longest-running continuous LGBTIQ+ event in the world. Our community would suffer a huge blow to its morale should such an important tradition be lost to the pandemic.

QNews proposed that Brisbane Pride hold a virtual event during June to ensure the event held every year since 1962, continues in 2020.

Today Brisbane Pride announced they will hold the Queens Ball Virtual Awards on 27 June this year.

President of Brisbane Pride Rebecca Johnson said the committee determined the event must go ahead.

“For 59 years, the Queens Ball has celebrated the diversity, inclusion, and resilience of our communities. It is essential we continue that glorious tradition even in the face of possibly the biggest crisis of our lifetime.

“If it is at all possible to hold the event at Brisbane City Hall later this year, we will certainly do that. But in the meantime, this virtual event ensures our communities have the opportunity to celebrate probably their most cherished tradition.”

Nominations for the Queens Ball Awards are now open at facebook.com/BrisbanePride

The Isolation Ball

The LGBTIQ+ communities love to dress up. However, with Pride events cancelled along with all many of this year’s big parties, we’re missing so many opportunities to celebrate.


QNews presents the 2020 Isolation Ball on Facebook Live.

It’s time to dress up and party. On 27 June, QNews presents the Isolation Ball, a costume event for everyone, everywhere. Wherever you are in the world and whatever you want to dress in, you’re invited to the Isolation Ball.

QNews spoke to Dame Sybil von Thorndyke, founder of Brisbane’s legendary Queens Ball, the longest-running continuous LGBTIQ+ event in the world.


Dame Sybil gave her blessing for two special awards honouring the early years of the ball.

The major award of the Isolation Ball will be the Jiembra Award. The Jiembra Award was the major Queens Ball award for many years, named for an Aboriginal word meaning ‘heavenly body’.

In the early years of the Queens Ball, attendees made costumes out of whatever they had at hand. Some of the wigs bore more than a passing resemblance to mop heads. The best prizes won gold-painted Kewpie dolls.

In that spirit of making do, we will award the Golden Kewpie Award for the best costume made in isolation with whatever you have at hand.

Anyone wishing to enter the awards will be asked to email photos or short videos in their costume for broadcast during the event. Celebrity panellists will comment on the costumes and viewers will vote on Facebook for the winners.

Keep an eye on QNews.com.au and our Facebook page for updates of other awards. We’ll also announce the entertainers performing on the night.

The Queens Ball Book

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The Queens Ball Book: cover illustration: Dame Sybil von Thorndyke by Garry Reinikka

Saturday 27 June sees the long-awaited publication of The Queens Ball Book by Bill Rutkin, Destiny Rogers and Dame Sybil von Thorndyke.

After two years of research, publisher Bill Rutkin decided not to wait out the current pandemic.

“At a time like this, we need things to celebrate and the Queens Ball as the longest-running continuous LGBTIQ+ event in the world is certainly something to celebrate.

“Therefore, considering the difficulties in printing and distributing a book now, in the spirit of our times, we will release the book digitally as a PDF.”

The book includes Dame Sybil’s reminiscences dating back to the very first ball in 1962.

It also contains many photos of some of the great personalities and costumes that made the Queens Ball so memorable.

Then there’s some of the behind the scenes scandals. The Queens Ball over the years hosted some of the most eccentric characters ever to grace our communities. Life was never boring front of house or back.

Bill Rutkin said income from sales of the book would go towards an Arts Prize in honour of Dame Sybil.

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